Daily digest summary emails

A daily digest summary is an email containing a compilation of new emails sent by members of a list. This can be a handy function to avoid clogging up members’ inboxes, reducing the number of emails they have to scan each day. To receive an email digest, members will need to opt to receive it. In this short post, we explain how to set up daily digest summaries with Simplelists.

Daily digest summary email

Pros and cons of email digests

Daily digest summaries can be useful for busy lists. Instead of receiving emails when they are posted, Simplelists list members can receive one email every 24 hours. This prevents members becoming inundated with emails when discussions are active and allows them to pick and choose which email discussions are more important for them to read, at a time that suits them.

It can sometimes be tricky to ensure optimum formatting of digest emails, when the original emails are pulled automatically into the digest. The digest needs to be appealing to read and easy to navigate. It can also be a challenge to decide which information should be included in the digest. Too much or too little information may have the same effect as being inundated with individual emails – members may simply delete it.

An easy-to-digest digest

To make sure digests are accessible and appealing to Simplelists list members, most formatting is stripped from the emails, in order to create a clean, easy to follow summary. A link is included for each message, which allows members to reply back to the list. If archives are enabled, links to attachments and the original emails are contained in the digest.

Enabling digest summaries

Enabling daily digest summaries is very easy. Log in and navigate to list members in the left hand menu. In the Address Book, you can see which members receive summaries and which don’t – a cross or a tick will appear next to their name in the ‘Digest format’ column. To enable daily digest summaries for specific members, edit their details by ticking the checkbox next to their name and selecting ‘Edit’. On the Edit Members screen, you can then check the ‘Digest’ box and then ‘Update’ to ensure that they receive it (a green tick should now show next to their name when you return to the Address Book).

When adding members to your list in bulk, you can set all members to receive digest summaries. Click on ‘Add many’ in the Address Book and then add your members’ details. Before clicking ‘Add Addresses’, make sure you have checked the ‘Set added members to receive daily digest email’ box on the left.

You can watch a demo of enabling daily digest summary emails in this short video.

Setting up multiple lists with Simplelists

Sometimes, you need more than one email list. You may need separate lists for different businesses, groups or organisations, or different lists for groups within your organisation. For example, one list for employees and another for managers, or individual lists for different topics, such as one list for marketing and another for discussion. In this short post, we tell you how to set up multiple lists using Simplelists (or watch a short video if you prefer).

Multiple email lists

Getting started

It is very straightforward to set up multiple lists. Simply go to simplelists.com, navigate to Products, select the blue ‘Sign up free for a multiple list’ arrow and fill in your details. You’ll have the option to choose a subdomain for your list (if you own your own domain, you’ll be able to add this later). There is a free, one-month trial for multiple lists so that you can try before you buy.

Managing the lists

To manage your multiple lists, simply log in using your simplelists username and password and select your multiple lists account from the ‘Account’ drop-down menu on the top right of the screen. On the next screen, verifying your account enables you to add members to your lists without needing them to confirm their email address (although you can still use the confirmation functionality to check that emails are valid). Simply enter the details of your organisation, what your list is used for, and how you obtained the emails (you can read another post about the rules around how people can opt-in to receiving your emails). Once you have done this, you can create a list by navigating to ‘manage lists’ in the left-hand menu, type in the name of the list, and click ‘Create’. This is where you could create a number of lists for your different groups (e.g. managers, employees and customers).

Adding members to your lists

Once you have created the lists, you can add some members. Select the address book from the left-hand navigation and choose to add members individually, in bulk, or by uploading a .csv file. If you choose to add them individually, you can enter their details and their email address and then select which list they will belong to. You can also add notes about the members if you wish. 

To view the members of your list, select ‘list members’ from the left-hand menu. The email address for your list can be seen at the top of this page. It is possible to use your own domain name for this email address and we will show you how to do this in an upcoming blog post, or you can view a short video that explains what to do).

Letting others manage your Simplelists account

It is possible to allow other people to manage your Simplelists account. This useful feature enables you to delegate management of your email lists, share the workload and save time. You can set permissions for each new user and you don’t have to give all users full control over your account. For example, a user can be allowed to approve messages and manage list members, but prevented from changing account settings. The ability to add delegated users means you’ll never need to share login details, which helps keep your account secure. New users can be added at any time, enabling easy expansion of your email management system as your organisation or business grows. If you’re making use of the Simplelists API, you can also add API users to your account. They can be added with either ‘read only’ or ‘full’ permissions.

Add users to account

Adding a delegated user

To add a new user, simply log in to your Simplelists account area and click on your username in the top right hand corner. A drop-down menu with a list of options will appear. Select ‘Manage Users’. On the Manage users screen, select ‘Add a delegated user’ and add a name and email address. It is important to use the correct email address as confirmation will automatically be sent to this address. You can edit the user permissions at this stage, by checking the relevant boxes. You can choose from one or more of:

  • Account administrator (allowed to add other users)
  • Allow user to manage list members
  • Allow user to approve messages
  • Allow user to manage settings

Then, click ‘Create user’ to complete the process. You will see the new user on the ‘Manage users’ page.

Adding an API user

To add an API, return to the ‘Manage users’ page (select from the drop-down menu by clicking on your username at the top right of the screen). This time, select ‘Add an API user’. Enter the username and password. You can leave the password box empty to leave this unchanged. Then, select whether the user is to have ‘read’ or ‘write’ permissions (check the box ‘user has write permissions’ if you wish the user to be able to change data in your account – leave it unticked for read only access). Select ‘Create user’. The API user will then appear in the list of users on the ‘Manage users’ screen.

That’s all there is to adding new users to your account. Simple!

You can watch these instructions in a short video in this post on our blog. The video also includes some screenshots to take you through the process.

For additional support, visit the support page on our website.

Using email aliases

Email addresses can be difficult to remember, resulting in mistakes when people send you an email. An alias can be used to make a straightforward replacement for a long or hard-to-remember address. An alias can also be used to forward messages sent to the alias on to another specified email address or group of addresses.

Email aliases

In simplelists, it is easy to use aliases as an effective way of grouping lists together. They can be a big time saver if you want to send a message to several lists. Here’s how to do it.

Send to more than one list

In practice, you simply send the message to the alias’ email address and it is sent to all the lists. You can also include normal email addresses within an alias – the message will be sent to them too.

Step-by-step

Creating an alias is easy. Login and select a multiple list account. Navigate to the aliases page and select ‘Click here to add a new alias’.

aliases_blog_1

Choose an email address for the alias. Note that, by default, the email address ends in your simplelists domain. Enter the email address(es) of the lists you want the alias to be forwarded to. In the screenshot below, we have added three lists: customers, employees and managers. A normal email address is also included. Click ‘Update’ to complete the process.

aliases_blog_2

Editing an alias

You can edit the alias details by selecting the one you wish to edit on the ‘aliases’ page under ‘Your current aliases’.

Some things to be aware of

It is important to know that, when using an email alias, it can sometimes be the case that it is harder for email recipients to know where the email has come from, especially if they have not received an email from the alias address previously. You should therefore make sure that it is still clear who the sender is and how they can ‘opt-out’ of receiving similar messages in the future, if they wish (read our earlier posts on good email etiquette and what information you can include in the email footer).

If the recipient has not received an email from the alias address before, it is also important to be aware that spam filters may be more sensitive to these emails than those sent to your familiar member list address(es). Another one of our posts on making sure your emails don’t get sent to the spam folder will help to avoid this happening.

These minor issues aside, it is also interesting to know that you can use an alias to reduce the chances of your data being compromised. By using a hard-to-guess alias as a password recovery address for your many online accounts, it can be more difficult for hackers to compromise your data.

How to build an email list

If you are using Simplelists for marketing, you will understand the importance of having a healthy email list to ensure that you can contact a range of clients and drive success in your business. If you are just starting a business, building a list of contacts or ‘members’ can be a challenge, especially at a time when your customers are receiving other marketing messages in their inbox and becoming more sensitive to spam. Despite these challenges, there are some simple and effective ways to develop a relevant list of members who will want to receive your emails.

Build an email list

Make it easy for people to sign up to your list

There are several ways that you can encourage people to sign up (‘opt-in’) to receiving your emails. You could put a form on your website – make sure it looks ‘clean’ and matches the rest of the site, place it near the top of the page, and add a short piece of text to explain ‘what’s in it for them’ if they sign up. You can read one of earlier posts that explains how to create a subscribe form for your site, using Simplelists. Try not to ask for too much information at this stage – an email address is really all you need, although asking for a first name will also allow you to personalise your emails when you contact them.

Other places you could consider placing a subscribe form are: after blog posts, in your site’s footer, on your ‘About’ page, or in a popup box (although browsers tend to discourage pop-ups these days as people can find them irritating). You can also use social media to encourage people to sign up and/or visit your website. If you are a keen blogger, writing guest blogs accompanied with a sign-up form can also work well.

Sign up at the point of sale or when completing other forms

If your website/product requires people to set up an account or fill in a form on your website, you could also incorporate email list sign-up into this process. Make sure that the reason/incentive for registering is clear though, and relevant to your target audience. You could make it as simple as including a check box that reads ‘Subscribe to our mailing list?’ that they can check when registering.

Word of mouth/events

It can be effective to offer those people who have been on your list for a while a small incentive or discount that may encourage them to tell others about your site/product. Make sure you ask for the friend’s email address and first name (again, to allow personalisation).

Let them know what to expect

It is good practice to make sure that your customers know exactly what to expect when they subscribe to your list. You should let them know what to expect with regards email frequency and content, and reassure them that they can unsubscribe at any time. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the law surrounding email marketing so that you don’t break any of the rules.

Tech tips: Keeping your webcam secure

Most of the devices we use on a daily basis these days have webcams installed as standard. While this makes keeping in touch with friends and family very easy, it is important to be aware of the potential associated security risks. There have been several stories in the news recently about people who have had their webcams ‘hacked’ and the implications for how this affects personal privacy are significant. In the first of a short series of ‘tech tips’ posts, we explain how webcams can be accessed and suggest some things you can do to avoid someone looking in on you, unwanted.

Webcam security

How can webcams be accessed?

Most hackers use a so-called ‘Trojan horse’ attack to access webcams. By erroneously clicking on an email attachment or downloading a piece of music or video that is infected with malware, the hacker may be able to control your device remotely.

Another technique, known as ‘clickjacking’ occurs when a website is manipulated so that the permission prompt for Flash becomes invisible. In this can, an invisible prompt can be placed over a commonly used area of the page (for example, the ‘Play’ button on a video) so that when you watch the video you inadvertently give permission to Flash to start recording images on your camera. The type of webcam you use may also be an issue, although this is now less common. Nonetheless, a recent article about security risks associated with baby monitors with in-built cameras suggests that there are still vulnerabilities in certain models.

What can you do to protect against this?

There are several things that you can do to avoid your webcam being attacked. The most obvious, and perhaps easiest, is to cover your webcam when it is not in use. However, it is possible that a hacker could still access the device’s audio feed, which is also pretty undesirable.

Make sure your hardware and software are up-to-date. The webcam itself, like most standalone devices, is controlled by its firmware and this is where any vulnerabilities are most likely to occur. Try to stay up-to-date with any firmware updates from the device’s manufacturer. Similarly, make sure your computer virus protection is current. You should run routine malware scans (malware is a popular way for hackers to access your device in other ways as well), and make sure you use a firewall to protect against attacks. A common way for malware to enter your computer is via email attachments so make sure that you don’t click on any suspicious ones. You can also make sure your wireless connection is secure by using a unique password on it, rather than the default one that comes with the router.

If you still wish to do more, there are some programs out there now that offer webcam protection. They work in the background and notify you when your webcam is being used. You can also keep an eye on the indicator light on the webcam, if you have one.

‘Good news’ technology stories

The past month has been an active and not always very positive one on the news front. At times when politics and events around the world can seem to be broadly negative, it can be nice to remind ourselves of ‘good news’ going on in the background. Over the past few months, we have shared quite a lot of positive technological advances on our Twitter and Google+ feeds. In this blog post, we have included some of our favourites for you to enjoy.

 Positive technology news

 

1. Using solar power for air conditioning

A large shopping centre in Victoria, Australia was in the news recently as its owners are using solar-concetrating thermal technology to power the centre’s air conditioning system. The innovative system heats and cools air within the building, without having to introduce external air, using drying wheels to act as dehumidifiers and remove moisture from the air. Heat is captured in the winter to hear the centre’s ambient air, and provides power to cool the centre in the summer. Researchers testing the system believe that it will drastically reduce electricity requirements, while also being about 40% smaller than a comparable air conditioning system.

2. Using lasers to uncover our past

Airborne laser scanners have recently been used to reveal several undiscovered cities hidden in jungles in Cambodia. Using a helicopter equipped with state-of-the-art Lidar technology to survey the landscape, it was possible to generate images of the ground which filter out surface vegetation and reveal hidden details on the surface. In this case, the technology allowed researchers to make great advances in our knowledge of Angkorian civilisation.

3. Transforming disabled people’s lives

Advances have been made in ‘assistive technology‘, which enables disabled people to do things that would have previously not been possible. Recent examples include ‘EyeGaze technology’, which allows people to control the movement of a mouse on a computer screen using just their eyes. Other versions allow users to control the mouse with their head, knee, foot or mouth. Verbal communication technology such as ‘Liberator’ also allows disabled people to communicate verbally using just eye movements to send commands to a computer.

4. Helping female refugees

Recognising that half of refugees are women, a groups of coders, designers, NGOs and academics have been working to develop technology that can help to educate and provide information to female refugees. The development of apps is a key activity, with individual projects linked to NGOs to ensure delivery. Hababy, an app that provides prenatal and postnatal information for refugee women, is one example.

5. Driving on solar-powered roadways

An idea initially mooted a while ago, the notion of ‘solar roadways‘ is starting to become a reality. It was announced this month that the Missouri Department of Transportation in the USA plans to become the first US public highway department to test the technology. By collecting the substantial solar energy that hits surfaces such as roads, the idea would give roads a dual purpose: both a part of modern transport infrastructure and a ‘smart’ power grid.

Why is an email footer important?

When you send emails for marketing purposes, there are several things you should do to ensure that your email has the most impact possible, and that you comply with the law on email and spam. Although at the end of your email, a well thought-out and well-designed footer can ensure that you do both of these things, as well as provide valuable information to your readers. It can also help to ensure that your email doesn’t get marked as spam. In this post, we look at five ‘best practices’ for email footers.

Email footers

1. Prioritise the legal stuff

It is a legal requirement that there is a clear and visible ‘unsubscribe’ link in your footer so that recipients can remove themselves quickly and easily from your mailing list, should they wish to do so (or update their subscription preferences). You should also include your contact information in the footer: full name and address of your company, and tax identification numbers or other relevant legal information that you might like to show.

2. Invite people to visit your social media links

If you are building a following on social media and use sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to promote your business/work, or share relevant content, the footer is a great place to pop the links to these sites. This makes it very easy for people to go directly to your page(s). You could include text links or, if you have the time and skills, include small social media icons that people can click on.

3. Remind people why they are receiving your email

It is important that your footer tells people why they are receiving the email. This reminds people that they ‘opted-in’ to receiving your emails. However, avoid an impersonal reminder like: “You are receiving this newsletter because you registered with your email address”. Instead, let them know when and where they subscribed, in case they want to double check.

4. Make it look good, and provide links to more information

You might like to include links to your own privacy policy (if you have one). This is particularly recommended as having a privacy policy helps your email to be ‘whitelisted’ (avoid the spam folder). You could also include any information about copyright and/or ownership of the content you are sending. Including links to other news items on your website and/or previous newsletters is also an option, but take care not to overcrowd things. You could include a logo in your footer and, if you are designing an eye-catching email, use a similar overall design in the footer.

5. Don’t weaken the sign-off

It is advisable not to include statements like: “This newsletter was generated automatically – do not reply as your message will not be read”. This can end the communication on a ‘bad’ note, setting a precedent that your email is ‘one-way’ and that your readers cannot (and perhaps should not) reply or interact with you about the content they have just read. This is a wasted opportunity to engage with your clients/list members so try to ensure that people can comment/reply if they wish.